Did you get any disappointing presents this Christmas? Every year, people spend millions on gifts that others don’t really want. This means that many of us end up with gifts that we don’t need once the holiday season is over.
A recent study by the consumer group Which? found that one in four people (24%) received a gift they didn’t want or couldn’t use last Christmas. Another study by the personal finance comparison site Finder estimated that R30 billion is wasted on unwanted Christmas presents each year in the UK alone.
So what do you do if you get presents you really do not need or want? You don’t have to let these unwanted gifts gather dust or contribute to landfill waste by throwing them away. There are other options available, such as returning, donating, or selling them.
You might be able to take the gift back to the store where your friend or family member bought it from. They may offer you a refund, let you exchange it for something else, or give you store credit.
Returning the gift is usually easier if you have a gift receipt because it proves where the item was purchased. Without a receipt, you might need to have an uncomfortable conversation with the person who gave you the gift to get proof of purchase. Most stores only accept returns with a receipt.
Some shops may allow returns without a receipt during the Christmas and New Year period, but it varies depending on the store’s policy. It’s worth trying if you can’t face the awkward conversation. Many stores extend their return deadlines during this time, so you should have enough time to return the gift.
Lisa Webb, a consumer law expert, explains: “Many retailers extend their return policy from October, giving customers until January to request a refund or exchange just in case a gift falls flat.”
Remember, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) does not cover the return of goods which are not defective. So retailers have the right to come up with their own take-back terms. They also have the right to refuse point-blank to take back non-defective goods at all. Many do particularly small, independent stores.
In the past stores such as Woolworths, Foschini, Incredible Connection, Clicks, Game and others have made it possible for those who received unwanted goods to return their items without a receipt, provided it is in its original packaging and in good condition. Sometimes this requires the exchanger to take a voucher instead of cash, but it’s something
Give it to someone else
If the presents aren’t to your liking, you can keep them and give them to someone you think will appreciate them more than you do. Make sure to keep the labels and packaging intact and store it away for next Christmas or a birthday. Avoid giving it back to the person who originally gave it to you, unless you’re sure they’ll appreciate it.
You can check with local charity shops to see if they are accepting donations. Some charity shops may have a lot of donations or only accept them on specific days. They are usually happy to receive most unwanted gifts, especially if they are brand new and unopened, as they can sell them to raise money for their causes. Make sure the items are in good condition.
If you receive unwanted clothes, you can also check if there’s a nearby charity clothing bank where you can donate them. You can also directly donate to charities like food banks, baby banks, and refuges, but make sure the item is suitable for their needs before dropping it off.
If you missed the returns deadline, you can try selling your unwanted gift online on platforms like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Vinted, or Gumtree. If you don’t think it’s worth much, you can consider giving it away for free on sites like Freecycle or Olio. Just make sure the listing isn’t visible to the person who gave you the gift if possible.